The Heller House is the setting for this erotic horror/murder mystery feature film. Dante Forbes is a film director of amateur erotic movies. His lead actress and muse is Kitty Kuntz. They together with their film team are making the movie, Hotel O. Guests have been invited for the weekend, by the mysterious Inferno Enterprises, to watch the filming of Hotel O. Mysteriously, murders begin. Why?
The film opens like something right out of Pornhub original. There is an overly dominant score and a couple of those weird angles and cuts that let you know titties are coming soon. I’m not sure exactly what it is about the difference in production between adult films and your regular viewing that automatically sends signals to the brain that make you know “adult content incoming,” but these films have a certain aura that you can just pick up on straight away…that or it’s only me and I’ve just discovered my superpower.
The Meadows is an indie erotic horror/thriller by writer/director/producer Luke Allen and stars Samantha Solar, Juan Caceres, Sandra Wade, and Elijah Davis. The film stays true to that adult film vibe while trying to be something meta; a horror film about the shooting of a porno filming gone bad. It’s…something else entirely though. The acting is pretty much on par with your mid-to-low indie budget film, which isn’t great for a mystery/horror. Also, as a bit of an audiophile, the sound was really thin and tinny, which I hope was only an issue with the screener copies.
There were some questionable plot holes throughout the film, weird choices in editing, and bizarre choices in sound direction like the fist murder being done to music that sounds something akin to Tim Burton conducting carnival music. On the plus side though, there is an actual plot that does come full circle. It’s a raunchy rollercoaster ride of revenge, sex, and seduction. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and neither have you…probably.
My biggest critique would definitely be the lack of adult action. The opening scene leads one to believe that this is going to be at least partially an erotic film, but it ultimately feels like a soft-core whodunit skinflick. If you’re going to make a risqué film about death and sex, approach it like they did in the 70s with flicks like Malabimba (1979). Bring the death, the sex and the horror. Even Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009) was more explicit. There’s a good montage in the latter half of the film that does try to push a few boundaries and I appreciated the energy, but it was too little too late. Either go balls deep or not at all.
Edit: Director Allen addresses this criticism in the Directors Statement which I will add at the end of the review.
I’m never one to throw unnecessary criticism or demean someone else’s artwork. Luke Allen has tried to do something different and has succeeded therein. I’ve never seen a film quite like this and probably won’t again—it’s a unique experience. Was it to my specific tastes? No. Was it entertaining? Absolutely. Would I recommend it? Only to a select few who would appreciate a good passion project and know indie well. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid.
The Meadows is a film within a film. The reason I wrote, directed and produced The Meadows, an erotic horror/ murder mystery, was because of my newfound interest in sex workers and porn actors, wondering what could be the motivating forces for them to begin working in the industry. I had watched the TV series, The Girlfriend Experience, by Soderbergh and HBO’s The Deuce.
I began and ended with a $13,000 budget, careful to not over budget. I cast loyal actors I had worked with in the past, in plays, written by me for the theater in Philadelphia. I was fortunate enough to hire a film team of two, Phuong Nguyen and Hieu Tran from Phoenix and Hawk Studios who were great to work with. This was their first feature film, and mine, so we took great risk to work with each other and it was quite an adventure.
I also was interested in writing a horror movie. My film moved to horror/murder mystery, due to budgeting decisions. FX was going to be a great expense for me, so I had to make do with what props I had. Also, the original script was gorier and more sexual than the finished script. I often rewrote as we were filming and reluctantly wrote out a few characters and gave their lines to those characters who remained. This was due to having difficulty finding actors who were willing to participate in simulated sex scenes, or violent scenes. They were mostly male actors, and this was surprising to me.
Most interior shots were done in my home, with the bathroom scene done at The Performance Garage in Philadelphia. The exterior shots were done in a neighboring town on a property I rented for a one-day shoot. The day was hot and long, but the actors and film team were very patient with the filming and me.
When writing the script, I had the audience in mind the whole time. What was it that I wanted them to experience, to feel? First of all, the characters are flawed, but you can’t help but like them. The characters work in porn, but there is still an innocence about them, they don’t seem hard, beaten down or bitter but do seem fulfilled when Karma comes into play. Second, I wanted a shock factor and I gave the audience three. Third, I wanted the audience to experience the flashback trauma that the two lead characters experienced in the meadows. I used music with black and white still shots to show the trauma, keeping in mind my actors, not wanting to trigger anything that they may have experienced in their own lives. Since the observer of the assault in the meadows has seemed to morph the past and present, I used the same actors to film the scene, instead of casting younger actors. Lastly, the ending, I wanted the audience to experience a sadness about what they had witnessed, the sadness the characters have carried all of their days, and I wanted the audience to be left with that sadness as they were leaving the theater.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.